The role of physical activity in disease prevention

08 April 2021

The role of physical activity in disease prevention

The role of physical activity in disease prevention

Noncommunicable chronic diseases (NCDs) are multifactorial that develop over the course of life and now present themselves as a global epidemic that include factors such as heredity, lifestyles, exposure to environmental factors and physiological factors.

Although physical activity is increasingly associated with an improvement in the quality of life population, especially in the prevention of NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, malignant neoplasms, chronic lung diseases and diabetes, it appears that the style of European society is increasingly sedentary.

According to data released by the World Health Organization (WHO), sedentary people have a higher mortality risk of 20% to 30%, especially for chronic diseases. “Specifically in Portugal, it is estimated that around 14% of annual deaths are associated with physical inactivity, a figure higher than the world average, which is below 10%” (DGS, 2017, p. 5).

Not bleaching the genetic part as a factor of great relevance in the development of these morbidities, the main causes are related to environmental factors and lifestyle.

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Role of exercise in the prevention of NCDs:

Improvement of cardiorespiratory parameters: increased Vo2max parameter, associated with a decreased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancers.

Strength and endurance improvement: associated with everyday activities (running, sitting, lifting, carrying weights…), less risk of injury, osteoarticular pain, prevention of osteoporosis. Also, increase muscle mass and, consequently, increase metabolism, thus promoting the improvement of lipid profile, cholesterol levels, lower risk of hypertension and diabetes. It also increases psychological well-being.

Flexibility Improvement: its association with preventing or delaying the effects of chronic diseases or risk factors is not as explicit as the other components, however, it is easily understood that flexibility acts as an adjunct method to the rest of cardiovascular, strength, and other work. / or resistance, in particular by promoting the strengthening of the musculoskeletal system (posture, quality of movement, muscle and joint composition, etc.).

These factors lead to the improvement of body composition or morphological characteristics that are extremely relevant to health when associated with body mass (fat, bones, muscles, waste (viscera, blood, etc.) and lean mass).

Given the current lifestyle, it is known that many diseases or disorders are related to abnormal body composition, or even dysfunctions in its constitution.

Therefore, the practice of regular physical activity can act in the prevention of chronic diseases and as non-pharmacological treatment, improving the patient's quality of life.

In short, neglect of the frequent practice of physical activity and the prevalence of physical inactivity increases the risk of existing chronic diseases, as well as the emergence of new physical and mental diseases, which, with relative effort and motivation, would be countered and prevented.

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By Fábio Oliveira, Personal Trainer at Bodylab Academy.

AdMil, T., & Amorim, F. (2018). Benefits of physical activity in promoting health and quality of life.
Alves, M., & Bartira, P. (2015). “and the practice of physical activity on the impact of hospitalizations for causes sensitive to primary care.” UNIFAFIBE University Center.
DGS. (2017). National program to promote physical activity.